Nevada bill seeking to address online poker cheating by creating “Black Book”

A bill introduced in Nevada last week, AB380, is seeking to create a “Black Book” for online poker players. The move would allow the Nevada Gaming Commission to draft and maintain a list of people who have been known to cheat while playing poker online.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. As drafted, it calls for the creation of a list of people with interactive gaming accounts who have been suspended or banned for cheating. 

As with the state’s list of gamblers who have been banned from Nevada’s in-person casinos, the identity of anyone added to the list would be a public record, available for viewing by all. Banned players who have been added to such a list would retain a right of appeal and to protest possible wrongful inclusion.

Sara Cholhagian Ralston, former executive director of the Patient Protection Commission, said she’s working on the bill alongside Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) in her personal capacity as a professional poker player, reports The Nevada Independent. She said the bill was meant to provide transparency for Nevada’s online poker community. 

However, while Nevada’s List of Excluded Persons who are banned from casinos (the “Black Book”) calls for the Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission to nominate and approve members, the poker list would seemingly require online poker operators to provide the names of the individuals

Nevada-licensed online gambling operators would have to submit the full name, date of birth, and gaming account name of any person who has “been suspended or banned from an interactive gaming system for cheating.”

Sara Cholhagian Ralston

“The intent is to protect players,” Ralston said, as per the cited source. “A lot of these online players hide behind a screen name. We have no idea who they are. The idea is to provide more information to the player.” She further noted she is drafting an amendment to clarify the language.

“This was never intended to be an overburden on the operator, because cheating is so hard to define, especially in the online space,” Ralston added. “How do you prove it and how do you not interfere with a criminal investigation? That’s not the intent.”

While the Silver State legalized online poker in 2013, there is only one site in activity: Caesars-run World Series of Poker. It is yet unclear how the legislation would affect the operator, which sees a spike in online activity when the annual WSOP takes place in Las Vegas between the end of May and the middle of July.

However, given Nevada is part of a Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, the need to address cheaters is not a minor one for the state. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey share player bases and liquidity, with more states bound to join them in the future.

Yeager, who is a part-time poker player, said AB380 was drafted with more expansive language than what had been intended. “I think it should be more narrow and limited,” he said, according to The Independent. “There needs to be some kind of transparency and some kind of accountability. When the WSOP or somebody decides that something is egregious enough that they’re going to ban a player, I think the poker community ought to know that.”